“Are you guys from AFTRS?” asked a friendly voice at the door to the Show Radio studio in the Giants Stadium Media Centre. It was C. Sean Cheng, an Australian Film, Television and Radio School student in the first year of his Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production.
Sean was in the media centre scouting locations for an independent documentary he is currently producing, Back On The Track, directed by Hannah Brooks. Naturally, we had to have him in for an interview.
The film follows the lives of contestants competing in Fashions On The Field, a competition celebrating the age-old tradition of dressing up at the races, extravagant hats, and modern style trends. “Those are the ladies who dress up very pristinely, kind of like royalty, really,” said Sean. “Generally, at stuff like the Melbourne Cup they’ll go and do between sections. They’re assessed on how well their hats are made, their age group…sometimes males are also part of the competition too, which is fantastic.”
The documentary shoot brought Sean to the Sydney Royal Easter Show today to film one of the Fashions On The Field contestants the filmmakers are following, who is taking part in a horse racing event. “All of these ladies who do the Fashions On The Field event, they are all from different parts of life and we want to show their diversity within the community,” Sean told Show Radio.
The filmmakers hope to focus on the femininity, prestige and excellence of the events, as well as the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the competition. “During Covid they had to do online competitions, which was a completely different context they have to compete in,” said Sean.
Production on the film is expected to wrap this month, with the potential of doing the film festival circuit later in the year. It is Sean’s hope that the documentary will be seen on the ABC, or on a streaming service such as Netflix or Stan.